Stainer’s Woes — is the net finally closing?
“There is an ongoing criminal investigation involving Mr and Mrs Stainer and Robert Richardson manager of The Grand and the VAT ‘problems’ that resulted in their arrest in July 2015”, according to the HMRC’s solicitor, appearing on April 10th before Judge Barber in Court 10 of the Bankruptcy & Companies Court, at the Rolls Building Fetter Lane, London; which is part of the Royal Courts of Justice. She confirmed that there was the criminal element in a three-track process also involving the civil liabilities of the various companies of which the Stainers were directors and the Stainers personally.
Michael Stainer Doris Stainer Robert Richardson
In Mr Stainer’s absence, Judge Barber was hearing a further application from HMRC in the matter of the winding up of Keppels Limited, Grand-UK Limited, Kentish Cuisine Limited and Keppels Cuisine Limited, all of whom, along with the now-defunct Grand Folkestone Ltd. were named in the various tax cases we have covered elsewhere. As it happens, the matter was adjourned for six weeks on medical grounds arising from the January 26th alleged assault on Mr Stainer. Another part of his request for an adjournment was that since the arrest of Mr and Mrs Stainer, along with their employee, Robert Richardson, when computers and documents were seized, he had been unable to access his records. However, this was refuted by the HMRC Solicitor who confirmed that copies were available and had been on two occasions made available to Mr Stainer at their Croydon offices, but that he had not attended
But Court 10 was not the only location where the playing out of what could be the last rites of Michael Stainer’s “Grand” commercial “empire”, was taking place.
On April 11th, Deputy Insolvency and Companies Judge Mullen sat in Court 17 to hear the application for the winding-up of The Grand Folkestone Partnership Limited. The significance of this is in the fact that this company was the sole shareholder in the Grand Folkestone Ltd. This was wound up by HMRC last year with HMRC debts in excess of £800,000. The Grand Folkestone Partnership showed a deficit on its balance sheet as of March 31st, 2017 of £65,330 – compared with a surplus of £1 the previous tax year. The next hearing in this application will be on May 9th. 2018.
The next act in what wasn’t a good week for the Stainers saw the rejection of their appeal against a decision of the First tier Tax Tribunal in April 2016  UKFTT 0138 (TC). The original decision related to tax penalties relating to the payment of PAYE and NIC contributions for the years 2005 to 2011 and the way they were apportioned between the various companies and the Stainers themselves. In brief, the issue was who actually employed the approximately 100 employees who worked at the Grand, some of whom were mainly paid in cash with a small number by cheque. The contracts of employment purported to be with “the Grand” but “no such entity existed and so could not be their employer”.
It looks like game over.. And yet I still wonder whether Stainer will suddenly amaze everyone with the mother of all cunning plans.
And if the wheels have completely fallen off – then what’s the position of the apartment leaseholders who live in the Grand?
And what about tradesman bills too?
If the Grand is bust where is the money coming from to carry out this major redecoration job?